Cultural Critic Argues that Ali Zafar Was Unfairly Maligned

There’s more to the case than meets the eye.

Mahwash Ajaz, a noted cultural critic, took to Twitter last month to talk about her views on the accusations faced by Ali Zafar regarding claims of harassment. In a Twitter thread, she took to explaining why she believed Ali Zafar had been maligned and why the case against him was an attack on his image.

Ajaz shared previous articles that shared testimonies against Meesha Shafi’s claims, picking apart the original case. Her argument is that enough people have testified against Shafi for her claims to be considered lies. Using this as a basis for the point she is making brings us back to the idea that you can only be speaking the truth when you do so in numbers. She has extensively quoted pieces that rely on the case being thrown out or witness testimonies. In a fair world, all of these should have the same weightage as the voices who spoke out in support of Meesha Shafi and those who spoke out against Ali Zafar. But does having a just world really mean simply following the majority?

The critic has since then, faced backlash on both sides for speaking out in such detail. In her critique, she takes a different stance to the usual Meesha vs Ali argument where you have to hate one to support the other. Instead she recognises that in the case of a much larger plan being afoot – as she claims – Meesha too, is being exploited. While her views hint at a much bigger conspiracy at play, she is treading a thin line between her argument and victim shaming. If it falls into the latter, it would be a step back for so much of the progress the #MeToo movement has made. But if she mantains a line between the two, she would accomplish something few, if any of the supporters of Zafar, have yet to achieve.

She has also spoken about the progress of her own stance on this issue, taking back much of what she initially advocated for as she now believes it was false news. What’s been most disappointing to see is the hate she has personally received for her views. Social justice movements, particularly when popular on social media, have a tendency to move away from actually benefitting the victim. In attacking Ajaz, her followers or critics get no closer to speaking the truth. And simply claiming that someone can be “bought” is not only defamatory but also hinders progress in the actual search for answers.

It’s also interesting because the facts still stand on either side of the argument. And as Ajaz has shown, its easy to switch to the other side, because there’s still reasonable doubt about the whole case.

The case around Ali Zafar and Meesha Shafi has garnered all sorts of opinions over the last two years. It has seen witnesses switching sides, changing narratives and what is probably lots of PR. However, one thing needs to be kept in mind. The search for truth may be harsh at times but it cannot and should not delve into victim blaming.

There’s a lot of little things that don’t add up ie. alleged eyewitness and victims taking back their testimony, Meesha not appearing in court despite repeated notices, Lahore High Court throwing out the case on what her supporters allege is a ‘technicality’, and so on. Mahwish also cites existing legislation against harassment, which Meesha’s supporters say wasn’t there to begin with to help her get justice.

Whatever the truth is, we hope that it prevails and that justice be done.



Court Adjourns Hearing on Ali Zafar’s Defamation Suit Against Meesha Shafi



Written by Anmol Irfan

Anmol is a freelance writer and journalist. She is also a supporter of women empowerment, accessible education and mental health awareness. She has a BA in history from the London School of Economics.


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